Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The 5 Finest Song Lyrics Of The Kinks - And Why

A promotional photo of British rock group The ...Image via WikipediaBy Stanley Urbane

Ray Davies, of The Kinks, is widely accepted to be one of the greatest songwriters of all time. He has a unique, observational style, using the everyday lives of ordinary people as subject matter. Davies is famous for his wonderful vignettes and pieces of social commentary. He is a master of evoking powerful imagery in the mind of the listener.

Pete Townshend, of The Who, has called Ray Davies the finest songwriter of the 60's. So what are the best examples of his work? Here's my take on the 5 finest song lyrics of The Kinks.

This was no easy task with so many great songs to choose from, but for me there are 3 key elements that drew me to my picks: Firstly, the telling of a story; secondly, the painting of a vivid scene; and thirdly, clever wordplay. Here are my selections: -

1. Waterloo Sunset (1967)
A classic lyrical masterpiece, setting a beautiful scene strongly in the mind. You can imagine yourself stood there on the bridge, seeing the whole scene around you. My favourite line: "As long as I gaze on Waterloo Sunset I am in paradise".

2. The Village Green Preservation Society (1968)
Full of nostalgia and "Englishness", this song uses some unexpected but wonderful words. My favourite line: "We are the skyscraper condemnation affiliate, God save Tudor houses, antique tables and billiards".

3. Come Dancing (1982)
Recollections from Ray's childhood, described so powerfully that they could be your own memories. The song laments the demolition of the local dance hall and the memories associated with it. My favourite line: "The day they knocked down the Palais part of my childhood died".

4. Two Sisters (1967)
An allegory of the lives of Ray and Dave Davies at the time - Ray married and a father, and under pressure to write songs, and Dave free and single and living the rock 'n' roll lifestyle to the full. My favourite line: "No longer jealous of her sister, so she ran round the house with her curlers on"

5. Only A Dream (1993)
An elevator is used as a metaphor for life's emotions in this tale of a simple greeting from a pretty girl making the singer's day. My favourite line: "I didn't think she'd even look at me or bother to glance my way, but she actually smiled at me and said Hiya handsome, have a good day".

You'll probably have your own favourite lyrics by The Kinks and there's really no disputing that Ray Davies is one of the greatest lyricists of all time.

If you like The Kinks, then you'll love Paul Curtis. He's a songwriter that is clearly strongly influenced by Ray Davies. I found this link to a FREE download of his latest single.

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1 comment:

  1. great post! I love the Kinks, it's really interesting how Ray Davies wrote about the more realistic sides to living in Britain in the 60s, my most recent post is a tribute to the kinks if you're interested